Our latest addition to the HEMMSFEMMES community, get to know fearless, soul-baring Canadian Olympian Alexandra Orlando, you're going to love her just as much as we do, promise.
How I Fell For Hemm
Full confession – the hardest interview question hands down will always be ‘tell me a little bit about yourself’. I always want to lean in, pause dramatically (raise an eyebrow, if I could) and say – “well, do you have a few hours?”
I couldn’t describe myself in 3 words if you paid me – BUT here’s the quick and dirty on Alexandra Orlando. Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person.
I’m a Canadian Olympian, born and raised in Toronto, but rarely stayed at home long enough to unpack a suitcase before I was up at 30,000 ft. again. I competed for my country for 12 years – trained 6 days a week, 8 hours a day all over the world for as long as I can remember. I became obsessed with the most unique sport that combined acrobatics, music, dance, unbelievable flexibility and sheer strength. Little did I know then, years later I would have the incredible honor of being named Canada’s flag bearer at the Commonwealth and Pan American Games bringing home multiple gold medals for this amazing nation and would finish my career as the only rhythmic gymnast from North or South America to compete at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Alex the gymnast seemingly had a pretty perfect life – the real thick of it was anything but. The mental and physical struggle for unattainable perfection day in and day out took its toll. A toll that shaped me as a woman and the type of person I am and will be for the rest of my life. When I was thousands of miles away from home, alone and utterly exhausted, I would write letters to my family to keep sane. I would write every night to get out all the frustration, all my doubts and fears. When I officially retired from competitive sport, I knew I had to share my story with the world.
I published my first book "Breaking Through My Limits: An Olympian Uncovered" a few years back. I bared my soul to the world and the response was overwhelming. I knew that the more vulnerable I allowed myself to be, the more people I could hope to empower. The writing turned into blogging, which turned into motivational speaking and I never looked back.
"If my journey has taught me anything it’s that I am so much stronger than I think I am. Always."
People have these misperceptions of Olympians - that we’re these superhuman, invincible beings – but we’re not. We struggle, we get knocked down and we fail – over and over. The one thing that sets us apart is that we never give up. There’s this force inside of you that keeps your legs moving when you don’t think it’s humanely possible to take one more step. It’s an undeniable will to push yourself past any physical and mental limit standing in your way. It’s a belief that you can be stronger, that you will be stronger.
When I stepped into the Olympic Stadium for the first time with hundreds of my teammates marching behind that beautiful Canadian flag, I thought my heart may just stop. The adrenaline hits you like a massive wave and your senses are on fire as you soak it all in. It’s not a dream anymore, it’s real. I carry that feeling with me when I’m having a tough day. It reminds me that I deserve to dream big, no matter what anyone says.
Now that I’m a retired athlete turned marketer turned all around creative collaborator – I am drawn to all things that make feel healthy and confident. I’m the best version of myself when I feel strong – enter HEMM.
We’ve carried out an Instagram flirtation for a little while now. We traded likes and comments back and forth, and then I thought – ok, I want to be a part of this community. Whether I’m playing sports, lifting in the gym or on the go – when I feel good I get more out of myself. Combining killer fashion and performance gear that I can wear all day every day and still look like a bad ass? Umm love at first sight. So excited to see what’s next for this amazing Canadian brand bringing unique lines to all of us coast to coast. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to sweat.
See you back here soon x